Friday, March 29, 2013

Guiding at Pasir Ris Magorve with the Naked Hermit Crabs

The Naked Hermit Crabs are back on the guided walk at Pasir Ris mangrove!
Despite the heavy downpour in the western part of Singapore, it was relatively dry at Pasir Ris Park. Organising my first guided walk at Pasir Ris mangroves for the year, I saw a turnout of about 30 visitors  of various ages. It was heartening to see our past visitors joining us for the same walk again.

It is great to see families bring their children out to experience nature.
Children observing a snail on the underside of a leaf and asking all kinds of questions.
We were blessed with good weather on this session as the thick clouds approaching Pasir Ris decided to hold it and passed by for the whole evening. :)

Even the adults are enjoying themselves in the walk.
Ley Kun guiding one of the groups.
At the start of the mangrove boardwalk, one of the orchid plants planted by NParks was flowering. It was one of the few orchid plants NParks planted on a tree, next to where big Tiger Orchid plant is located. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of the pretty orchids.

Shortly into the walk, I spotted a golden orb web spider (Nephila pilipes). This poor female spider's web looks quite damaged and she lost two legs on her right.
Female golden orb spider
Another spider we encountered during this walk was the heavy jumper (Hyllus diardi). It got the children screaming and squirming as Jerome helped to bring the spider closer to the children.
Heavy jumper
People on a free guided tour of Pasir Ris mangroves by the Naked Hermit Crabs
Visitors looking at the spider while I was taking photos of it.
(Photo by Ria Tan)
How lucky, some children wanted to see an inch worm and we found one!
People on a free guided tour of Pasir Ris mangroves by the Naked Hermit Crabs
Looking at an inch worm

The other animal that got the children squirming was a mealy bug, which Ley Kun found.
Mealy bug
What are the visitors pointing at?
"Looking at this!"
Oh... it was an atlas moth caterpillar.
Overview of the caterpillar
Closeup on the head of the caterpillar
It is easy to recognise a atlas moth caterpillar based on its size. It is a huge caterpillar. It was a kind gentleman on the boardwalk who alerted us about this caterpillar. He was also taking pictures of it. The atlas moth does not have a mouth piece. It can only feed during the caterpillar stage and a single atlas moth caterpillar is capable of wiping out leaves of a young plant. When the caterpillar morphs into a moth, its objective is to look for a partner to mate and lay the egg before it dies.

Over at Ley Kun's group, they saw a juvenile malayan water monitor lizard peeking out of a crab hole. We wonder what it was doing inside the hole?
The giant mudskippers were plentiful as usual in the mangrove having their own activities. Some were moving around, while some has a scary mud spa.
Giant mudskipper moving out from its hole
Mud spa mudskipper
At the end of the walk, our visitors were treated to a lovely and tranquil view of Sungei Tampines. We saw some of the resident grey herons flying towards their nests further downstream. Some visitors spotted a water monitor lizard lazing on a tree and then a swimming one at a later time. High up on a tree, Sankar and this group spotted an uncommon woodpecker.
The water monitor lizard made a great model for drawings
Grey heron flying
On this trip, we had 5 girls from CHIJ Katong Convent who are on a nature guiding program in becoming a nature guide for the Pasir Ris mangrove guided walk. At the end of the walk, Ria spent some time talking to these girls.
Having a chat with Ria.
Future nature guides with their lovely guestbook drawings.
(Left to Right: Claudia, Cheryl, Kristine, Erynn and Charmaine)
Our visitors were also spent some time working on their guestbook drawings and usually the children are the most serious one working on it.
Here's some images of what our visitors have expressed:

Guiding the visitors for this walk, we have Ivan, Ley Kun, Ria, Pei Yan and Sankar.
Also a great welcome to our young nature guides of Pasir Ris mangrove: Claudia, Cheryl, Kristine, Erynn and Charmaine.

For those who are interested to join us for the Pasir Ris mangrove walk, the next session is on 20 April 2013. Do sign up through this online form.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Mud lobster sighting and 8 new wild boar piglets at Chek Jawa

Today at the entrance to Chek Jawa, the guides and visitors were greeted with two adult wild boars and 8 piglets born very recently. The piglets are so small and cute!
2 adults and 8 piglets feeding on bread.
After two months of break for the volunteers from the Naked Hermit Crabs (which felt like super duper long break), the free Chek Jawa guided walk has resumed. In this first guided walk for the year, the guides and visitors were treated to many interestes critters in Chek Jawa.
Visitors for the guided walk
We have about 50 visitors today, plus 4 of my students who are on an experiential program in becoming a nature guide.

Here's the video of the wild boars and the 8 piglets we saw at the entrance.

My usual route brings my group through the left trail of the coastal forest into the mangrove. At the entrance to the mangrove boardwalk, I could not locate the star fruit tree. The tree was trimmed and I was unable to find the tree with the flowers. We then walked up the Jejawi tower to get a better overview of Chek Jawa.

Back down on the boardwalk, one of the visitors in Ria's group spotted a mud lobster!
Mud lobster
It was a very rare treat to the visitors who were nearby. For the 3.5 years I have been guiding, this is actually my first time seeing a mud lobster. Two of my students got to see it on their first visit to Chek Jawa. How lucky they are. This was the only pose I got of the mud lobster after patiently waiting with my group for it to appear as it went into hiding with so many people looking at it. There were too many people at the spot when it first appeared and I couldn't take a picture or a video of it.

The sighting of the mud lobster made my day and a great way to start the mangrove section. Mud lobsters are very shy creatures that live deep in the mud. They hardly come out of their burrow, even during night time.

A father in my group pointed out a spider housed on a leaf to his son. It it was clearer to see what it was  with my macro lens.
Spider with it's food.
My young visitors are really good at spotting small critters. It takes some time for our eyes to get used to the colours in the mangrove environment and soon enough, many little critters start appearing in front of you.

They were able to point out the mudskippers, the tree-climbing crabs and the fiddler crabs in the mangrove. Even the adults are doing an impressive job at spotting. One of them actually spotted a mud crab hiding in a hole under a tree.
Fiddler crab in the mangrove
Tree-climbing crab
Mud crab in a hole under a tree.
Armed with my big camera and macro lens, I was able to show the children and adults in my group how the tiny blue fiddler crab looked like.
Tiny blue fiddler crab
Along the coastal boardwalk, my visitors were treated to more fiddler crab activities next to the Bakau tree at the boardwalk junction. It seems that the dead mangrove tree that used to stand on the intertidal area has decayed badly and is washed up next to the Bakau tree.
Washed up dead tree
It used to be a subject where many landscape photographers like to use for landscape shots from Chek Jawa. I could only locate one Infra-Red shot with the tree in my online gallery.
The dead tree in the middle.
No otters were sighted today but the sighting of the mud lobster was a more than enough replacement for it.

Other guides for this trip: Chay Hoon, Jia Ling, Ley Kun and Ria.
My students on training: Ca Lin, Isabel, Sarah Ooi and Vindhya.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...